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Thursday, 29 January 2015


I have been watching David Bentley Hart again. It’s not easy. His vocabulary is at least 10% bigger than mine – and he could write a book on every word in his which is not in mine. He almost personifies erudition – and he knows it. He is not intellectually modest. He reminds me of Cassius Clay. This is why watching him is such a wonderful spectator sport. He is the Brian Lara of philosophers: a bowler who attempts to take his wicket is crushed. Witness the hapless Terry Sanderson, featured in an earlier post.

He has written a book (I have not read it yet): The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness & Bliss.
In his talk about it he says that I “should get out more”. I am, I confess, one of those who have never been astonished by the fact of existence. I have, it is true, parroted the mystery of “why there is something rather than nothing”. However, “existential surprise” is not my constant companion, my constant state of mind – so much the worse for me. But, thank you, David. It is truly astonishing that the universe exists. It is a miracle.

Water-into-wine and the raising of Lazarus are second order miracles – the very existence of water, of Lazarus’ body (only slightly less miraculous before his resurrection than after): these are miracles of the first order. Is it fanciful to say that the reactivity of carbon, only in the range 0OC to 100 OC (when water is liquid), is a second order miracle?

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